6 of the best train journeys in the world
Shun airports and altitude for old-world journeys by rail, because it’s not just about the destination.
There is something about train travel that is truly enticing, and there’s good reason these train trips are so sought after. While you can jump on a plane and reach your destination in a matter of hours, train travel is a journey in itself that so many crave. Here are the six best train journeys in the world.
1. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada
Rocky Mountaineer is world-famous and actually has four distinct train journeys through the Rocky Mountains. Rockies to the Red Rocks begins in Moab, Utah and finishes in Denver, Colorado; First Passage to the West begins in Vancouver and finishes in Banff; Journey through the Clouds begins in Vancouver and finishes in Jasper, with a stop in Kamloops; and Rainforest to Gold Rush begins in Vancouver and finishes in Jasper, with stops at Whistler and Quesnel.
Guests can see this spectacular scenery through domed glass windows while enjoying complimentary beverages and delicious, regionally inspired cuisine featuring local ingredients and flavours prepared by award-winning chefs. There are no sleeper cars on Rocky Mountaineer, so you’ll stay in beautiful hotels at each destination.
2. The Ghan, Australia
For over 90 years, The Ghan has been journeying through the heart of Australia, taking you from Darwin to Adelaide and vice versa. But The Ghan is not simply a train, it has an array of onboard and off-train experiences of a lifetime.
Onboard you can choose your level of service, ranging from Gold Service to Platinum Service. Platinum Service adds an enhanced level of sophistication to the journey. With the spacious suites complemented by personalised service and world-class food and wine.
The off-train experiences allow you to tailor your journey with whatever suits your travel needs, as the train stops at Alice Springs, Marla and Manguri.
3. Venice Simplon Orient-Express, Europe
From Kentish countryside to Venetian canals, the Orient Express is one of the world’s most iconic train journeys, taking in the global cities of London, Paris and Venice. Life on board is old-worldly with all carriages being lovingly restored to their former Art Deco glory of the 1920s.
Guests dine on gourmet cuisine in one of three opulent restaurant cars, with a seasonal menu created by Chef Jean Imbert. They then sip refined champagne in crystal glassware in Bar Car ‘3674’ while listening to the resident pianist prior to the midnight brunch. Yes, midnight brunch with lobster rolls, truffled club sandwiches, and whatever cocktail you desire.
Retire to the comfortable cabins after the night’s festivities, before the journey continues the next day.
4. Glacier Express, Switzerland
Travel between the west and east of the Swiss Alps in the most scenic way possible. Setting off from Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn, the Glacier Express train journeys take you through landscapes of snow-covered Alpine peaks, past mountain streams and lakes, craggy cliff faces, and through quaint villages and hamlets.
Passing through 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges, the train crosses Oberalp Pass, which is the highest point of the trip at 2033 metres and finishes in the chic winter wonderland resort of St Moritz.
5. Inca Rail, South America
If you’re interested in taking a train to Machu Picchu in Peru, then Inca Rail offers a level of convenience that is difficult to match. Inca Rail has two different routes, one from San Pedro station in Cusco, and the other is a Bimodal Service that takes you in a van to Ollantaytambo. There, you will board the train that will take you to Machu Picchu.
While on board, you can indulge in a tasty menu prepared with organic ingredients grown right in the Sacred Valley, live Peruvian music, plenty of windows to admire the incredible scenery of the Andes, and a spacious Observatory Lounge with an open-air balcony.
6. The Flåm Railway, Norway
The Flåm is one of the leading tourist attractions in Norway. At just an hour long, the Flåm Railway may not be the grandest of journeys, but it’s certainly among the most picturesque. The railway rises 863 metres from the starting point in the tiny village of Flåm in the Sognefjord, and passes by deep ravines, cascading waterfalls and towering peaks to the mountaintop station of Myrdal.
The Flåm Railway is even more magical in the colder months when a blanket of snow turns the landscape into a winter wonderland. The train takes a five-minute photo stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall where you can disembark and go out onto the platform.
Construction of the railway is said to be one of the greatest engineering feats in Norway, as the 20-kilometre-long railway line is one of the steepest in the world, with 80 per cent of the journey running on a gradient of 5.5 per cent. There are no less than 20 tunnels, 18 of which were built by hand. One of the tunnels even takes a 180-degree turn inside the mountain.